Senior couple suffering from hearing loss standing in front of a pink backdrop trying to remember something.

Are you forgetting something? It’s not your imagination. It really is getting harder to remember things in daily life. Once you become aware of it, loss of memory seems to advance quickly. It becomes more incapacitating the more aware of it you become. Most people don’t realize that there’s a connection between memory loss and hearing loss.

And no, this isn’t just a natural occurrence of getting older. There’s always a root cause for the loss of the ability to process memories.

For many that cause is neglected hearing loss. Is your hearing affecting your ability to remember? You can delay the development of memory loss considerably and maybe even get some back if you are aware of what’s causing it.

Here’s what you need to know.

How neglected hearing loss can result in memory loss

They aren’t unrelated. In fact, researchers have found that individuals who have untreated hearing loss are 24% more likely to develop dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other severe cognitive problems.
The reasons for this increased risk are multi-fold.

Mental exhaustion

Initially, the brain will need to work overtime to overcome hearing loss. You have to make an effort to listen to something. Now, your brain has to work extra hard where before it just happened naturally.

You start to use your deductive reasoning skills. You attempt to determine what people probably said by removing unlikely choices.

This puts lots of extra stress on the brain. It’s particularly stressful when your deductive reasoning abilities let you down. This can lead to embarrassment, misconceptions, and even bitterness.

Stress has a significant effect on how we process memory. When we’re stressed out, we’re tying up brain resources that we should be using for memory.

And something new starts to occur as hearing loss worsens.

Feeling older

You can begin to “feel older” than you are when you’re constantly asking people to repeat themselves and straining to hear. If you’re always thinking that you’re getting old, it can come to be a self fulfilling prophecy.

Social solitude

We’ve all heard the trope of somebody who’s so lonely that they begin to lose touch with reality. Human beings are meant to be social. When they’re never with others, even introverts struggle.

Untreated hearing loss slowly isolates a person. It’s more difficult to talk on the phone. Social get-togethers are less enjoyable because you need to ask people to repeat themselves. You begin to be excluded from conversations by friends and family. You may be off in space feeling isolated even when you’re with a room full of people. The radio might not even be there to keep you company over time.

It’s just easier to spend more time alone. You feel older than people your age and don’t feel like you can relate to them anymore.

When your brain isn’t frequently stimulated it becomes hard to process new information.

Brain atrophy

A chain reaction starts in the brain when someone begins to physically or mentally seclude themselves. There’s no more stimulation reaching regions of the brain. When this occurs, those parts of the brain atrophy and stop working.

There’s a high level of interconnectivity between the different regions of the brain. Hearing is connected with speech, memory, learning, problem-solving, and other abilities.

There will usually be a gradual spread of this functional atrophy to other brain functions, like hearing, which is also linked to memory.

It’s analogous to how the legs become atrophied when somebody is bedridden for an extended period of time. Muscles get weak when they’re sick in bed over a long time period of time. They could quit working altogether. They might need to get physical therapy to learn to walk again.

But the brain is different. Once it starts down this slippery slope, it’s hard to reverse the damage. Shrinkage actually happens to the brain. Doctors can observe this on brain scans.

How a hearing aid can prevent memory loss

If you’re reading this, then you’re still in the early stages of memory loss. You may not even barely be aware of it. It’s not the hearing loss itself that is leading to memory loss, and that’s the good news.

It’s the fact that the hearing loss is neglected.

In these studies, those who were using their hearing aids on a regular basis were no more likely to have memory loss than somebody of a similar age who doesn’t have hearing loss. The advancement of memory loss was slowed in people who started wearing their hearing aids after experiencing symptoms.

As you get older, try to stay connected and active. Keep your memories, memory loss is connected to hearing loss. Pay attention to the health of your hearing. Have your hearing tested. And consult us about a solution if you’re not using your hearing aid for some reason.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.